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New international studies undergraduates enter the premier study program at UM
2014-15 Croft Scholars. Bottom Row (L to R) – Hadley Peterson, Sarah Meeks, Matthew Forgette, Alexandra Gersdorf, Natalie Gagliano. Top Row (L to R) – Kate Hill, Matthew McInnis, James DeMarshall, Sydney Green.
Seven new freshmen with outstanding academic records and the desire to pursue global careers have entered the University of Mississippi this fall on prestigious Croft Scholarships as members of the Croft Institute for International Studies. They are joined by two sophomores who were awarded the Rose Bui Academic Excellence Scholarship this year.
Five of the seven freshmen are from Mississippi, one is from Wisconsin and one is from Grossnape, Germany. Each will receive $8,000 per year for four years as long as they make good progress through the international studies major. The 2014-15 Croft Scholars have ACT scores ranging from 30 to 35. They include National Merit Finalists and Semifinalists and a National Merit Commended Scholar.
“After an intensive application and interview process, we selected an outstanding crop of students for 2014-15,” said Kees Gispen, executive director of Croft Institute. “Each student selected was heavily recruited by top-ranked academic institutions.”
The new Croft Scholars are Matthew Forgette of Oxford; Sydney Green of Hattiesburg; Natalie Gagliano of New Berlin, Wisconsin; Kate Hill and Sarah Meeks of Madison; and Matthew McInnis of Canton. The International Scholarship recipient is Alexandra Gersdorf of Grossenaspe, Germany. The winners of the Rose Bui Academic Excellence Scholarships are Hadley Peterson of Jacksonville, Florida, and James DeMarshall of Mantua, New Jersey.
“To be chosen for the Croft Institute is an honor and a blessing,” DeMarshall said. “You see the success of the people ahead of you and you want to push yourself to achieve what they have achieved.”
As members of the Croft Institute, scholars begin a rigorous yet rewarding plunge into an international studies major specializing in a foreign language. Croft courses are taught in smaller classes by institute professors, which allows for in-depth discussion, reflection and analysis. Students also have opportunities to take classes in the larger university community. Scholars must also spend one semester abroad in a country where their chosen language is spoken.
The Croft Institute was established in 1997 and is funded annually by the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund. By combining the best features of small and large academic institutions, Croft provides the best of both worlds for a truly unique college experience.
Forgette, a National Merit Semifinalist, graduated from Oxford High School with a 3.92 GPA and 35 ACT. He was a member of the National Honor Society, an AP scholar and a mock trial state finalist. His other achievements included a state championship in tennis and a district championship in cross-country.
Green graduated from Oak Grove High School with a 4.0 GPA and 34 ACT. She was secretary of the class of 2014. Her community service activities included a student ambassadorship with People to People and an Excellence in Service Award from Oak Grove High School.
Gagliano graduated from Eisenhower High School in New Berlin, Wisconsin, with a 4.0 GPA and 32 ACT. She was part of the National Honor Society, an honorary thespian, and a soccer player and golfer.
Meeks, a National Merit Commended Scholar, graduated from Madison Central High School with a 4.0 GPA, 32 ACT and 1410 SAT. She was president of the National Honor Society, an AP scholar and a representative for her student government. She received a citizenship award for her public service.
McInnis, a National Merit Semifinalist, graduated from Germantown High School with a 4.0 GPA, 32 ACT and 1340 SAT. He is an Eagle Scout and a seasoned musician, and was president of GHS Beta Club, an AP scholar and a member of the Future Business Leaders of America.
Hill, a National Merit Semifinalist, graduated from Madison Central High School with a 4.0 GPA and 32 ACT. She was editor-in-chief of the MCHS newspaper and president of the Rosa Scott French Club. She was a senator in the Mississippi Youth Legislature and is a published author.
Gersdorf, the recipient of the International Scholarship and a National Merit Semifinalist, graduated from Klaus-Groth-Schule with a 3.67 GPA. She was a member of the German Red Cross, School Paramedics and the student parliament, and was a Model United Nations participant. Her public service included tutoring children with learning disabilities and working as a peer mediator for student conflict management.
Peterson, recipient of a Rose Bui Academic Excellence Scholarship, is entering her sophomore year. She is a member of the Lambda Sigma honor society. She chaired the Relay for Life Council, was nominated as a community assistant alternate and is a global ambassador.
DeMarshall, recipient of the other Rose Bui Academic Excellence Scholarship, also is entering his sophomore year. As a freshman, he was recognized for academic excellence from the Department of Modern Languages in freshman Chinese. He was elected to the Croft Senate during the spring 2014 semester and studied at Shanghai University over the summer.

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